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I'm trying to install Ubuntu on a Mac, but I can't get it to boot with default mac bootloader or rEFI. It shows up as "Windows" On the mac bootloader and shows up as "Linux" on rEFI.

I'm not sure where should I install the bootloader to during installation.

Here's my partition table:

sda : Hard drive manufacturer name

sda0: Mac partition

sda1:

 ...

sda4: SWAP

sda5: Ubuntu

And I have installed the bootloader on sda5. Should I install it on sda instead? I'm afraid this will replace the default Mac OS X bootloader and I won't be able to go into the Mac side again.

Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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This is trick. Make sure your in BIOS mode (no good way to tell) then install on the MBR of /dev/sda –  coteyr Jan 18 '13 at 17:40

2 Answers 2

Fist make sure your in BIOS mode. There is no good way to tell this, but if your in the Ubuntu Live CD Your probably in BIOS emulation mode. Specially if your using ReFiT.

Next install on /dev/sda. This will not hurt your mac booting because it boots via EFI (which is a file in one of those partitions).

Then Refit should sow you a Linux partition, and you can use that to boot. The mac boot loader doesn't understand Linux and will always call it "Windows". In addition it may not start in BIOS mode (which will make a lot of things not work). Your best is to use ReFit and install on /dev/sda

One other thing. Make sure your two partition tables are in sync. This can be done from refit.

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If you don't have Windows installed, IMHO it's better to boot Linux in EFI mode than in BIOS mode, if at all possible (and it usually is). This is done by installing an EFI boot loader on the EFI System Partition (ESP), and usually supplementing it with rEFIt or rEFInd. If you're using a 3.3.0 or later kernel, rEFInd can boot those kernels directly, without the use of GRUB or any other boot loader. See the rEFInd documentation and my Web page on EFI-mode Linux installations on Macs for more details -- but be aware that the latter page hasn't been updated for Ubuntu 12.10, and some details are actually simpler with 12.10.

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